Jun 8, 2015

Late Seventies Mets Outfielder: Billy Baldwin (1976)

Robert Harvey Baldwin was born June 9, 1951 in Tazewell, Virginia. Baldwin was a star athlete getting a scholarship to Southern University. The six foot left handed hitter starred there in baseball, football & soccer.

He was signed as an amateur free agent outfielder by the Detroit Tigers in 1972. In 1975 he was the Florida State League MVP leading the AA in hits & triples while batting .301.

Baldwin debuted in the majors with the Tigers on July 29, 1975, getting to play his first MLB game at Shea Stadium. The Tigers were playing the A.L. New York club who were leasing Shea Stadium as their home park was being renovated. He got his first career hit at Shea Stadium off Doc Medich that night as well. A week later he hit his first career HR in Cleveland & then at the end of the month hit a three run shot against the California Angels. He appeared in 30 games on the season batting .221 with four HRs eight RBIs & a pair of stolen bases.

In the winter of 1975, Mets GM Joe McDonald insisted the Tigers throw Baldwin into a deal that was in the works, which sent Rusty Staub to Detroit for pitcher Mickey Lolich. Without Baldwin, McDonald wasn’t going to make the deal.

Unfortunately the Tigers agreed & the Mets dealt away Rusty Staub. Staub went on to bat .299 & drive in over 95 runs in each of the next three seasons. As for Lolich, he ended up going 8-13 and was gone after one season.

Baldwin spent 1976 at AAA Tidewater hitting .271 leading the Tides with 17 HRs 20 doubles 18 stolen bases & 72 RBIs. He got a September call up, making his Mets debut pinch hitting for Nino Espinoza on September 4, 1976. He hit a sac fly driving in John Stearns in the Mets 7-4 victory. His biggest thrill came on September 24th at Shea Stadium in a game against the Chicago Cubs. He hit a walk off game winning HR off pitcher Joe Coleman, whom had been his team mate briefly in Detroit. Baldwin was in the starting line up again the next day, going 3 -4, hitting a single, double & a two run triple.

Baldwin played only one season for the Mets at the MLB level, but remained in the organization until he was released in 1978. In two career seasons he batted .231 with 27 hits 5 HRs 4 doubles 13 RBIs & a .266 on base %.

Later in his life, Baldwin suffered a variety of illness & passed away at an assisted living facility on June 28th, 2011, he was 62 years old.

1 comment:

Charlie O' said...

Baldwin passed away on June 29th 2011 just three
weeks after his 60th birthday.